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One Year Research Fellowships: 2016–2017

For 2016-17 the RCS awarded 30 one-year surgical research fellowships, following an interview assessment. The Research Board selected the fellowships from an extremely high-quality field, reflecting the standard of surgical research being carried out throughout the UK today.

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We depend on voluntary donations from individuals and trusts as well as legacy bequests to fund these invaluable research projects.Find out more about supporting surgical research. Alternatively, please call us on 020 7869 6086 or email

Miss Natalie Allen Ms Jennifer Kingston Miss Sarah Onida  Mr Matthew Wordsworth 
Mr Thomas Barnes Ms Rebecca Llewellyn-Bennett Mr Mustafa Rashid Ms Naomi Wright 
Mr Timothy Biggs Miss Hawes Lloyd-Hughes Miss Hema Sekhar Mr Amir Youshani
Miss Ambika Chadha Mr Max Marsden Ms Andrea Sheel  
Miss Emma Combellack Mr Scott McCain Mr Rohitashwa Sinha  
Mr Rodrigo De Figueiredo Ms Emma McGlone Mr Henry Smith  
Ms Candice Downey Ms Wee Ngu Mr Philip Spreadborough   
Mr Daniel Hipps Mrs Hannah Nieto Mr Nish Srikandarajah   
Mr Yazan Khaled Ms Ping Ong Mr Edward St John   

Miss Natalie Allen

natalie allen

Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry

 The role of myopepithelial galectin-7 in progression of ductal carcinoma in-situ

'Galectin-7’s role in breast cancer development'

 In 2012 early breast cancer known as Ductal Carcinoma In-situ (DCIS) affected 5077 women. DCIS does not spread, but can progress to invasion in up to 50% of patients. However, currently we have no way of knowing which patients will progress.

This project will investigate a molecule called Galectin-7 as a marker to determine which DCIS cases will become invasive. Galectin-7 is found in normal breast cells, but in some patients Galectin-7 is lost. We will determine if Galectin-7 loss is necessary for DCIS progression and how it is involved in this process. 


Mr Thomas Barnes

thomas barnes

John Radcliffe Hospital

Investigating the use of fluorescent proteins to identify dysplasia in endoscopy and surgery

'Molecular imaging in colonoscopy and TEMS'

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK with around 40,000 new cases per year resulting in 16,000 deaths annually. White light colonoscopy is the current gold-standard for endoscopic examination of the colon. Identification and removal of colonic polyps has been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Despite advances in white-light colonoscopy, there are still associated miss-rates for both adenoma and cancer detection. 

Molecular imaging aims to improve detection and resection rates by identifying lesions that are not seen with white-light colonoscopy. 

Mr Timothy Biggs

timothy biggs

Academic Unit of Clinical and Experimental Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Southampton 


Intracellular staphylococcus aureus within mast cells “the trojan horse of chronic rhinosinusitis" 

'Mechanisms of disease resistance in chronic rhinosinusitis'

Chronic sinusitis is very common (15% of population). It is a chronic and expensive disease with many patients needing lifelong medications and operations. Research has revealed that some patients harbour particular bacteria within their nose which make the disease much more resistant to treatment.  

This research aims to investigate the role of bacteria in chronic sinusitis and how the bacteria mediate resistance to treatments. The eventual aim is to develop new therapies which can reduce the need for antibiotics and operations and make significant financial savings for the NHS. 

Miss Ambika Chadha

ambika chadha

St Thomas' Hospital, London 


3D assessment of cleft lip phenotype & association with underlying genotype 

'Taking cleft lip description beyond words '

Cleft Lip is the most common facial deformity affecting 1 in 700 children. Our best surgery, however, still does not restore a perfect appearance and social stigma around the condition persists. Every cleft lip is unique, driven by its genetics, but is difficult to describe in words only. By using three-dimensional images of the cleft and converting them into numbers we can determine the severity of the cleft and measure the change brought about by surgery. We can then identify categories of cleft lip, their genetic causes and the optimal surgical techniques for treatment. 

Ms Emma Combellack

emma comeallack

European Centre of NanoHealth, Institute of Life Sciences, Swansea University 


Interaction of adipose stem cells (ADSC) & MCF-7s in the breast microenvironment 

'ADSCs and the breast cancer microenvironment'

Breast cancer affects 1.7million women worldwide each year and in the UK 46,000 women a year receive a new breast cancer diagnosis. 40% of these women have a mastectomy as their primary therapeutic procedure, with 30% undergoing reconstruction (delayed or immediate). As autologous reconstructions remain the gold standard, more work must be done to understand the risk of introducing a native stem cell population present in adipose tissue into the microenvironment of previous breast cancer. The aim is to improve reconstructive planning and post reconstruction surveillance.

Mr Rodrigo De Figueiredo

rodrigo de figueirdo

Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne

Real-time assessment and optimisation of livers for transplant during ex-vivo perfusion 

Liver allograft optimisation and real-time assessment'

The number of people needing liver transplants continues to rise, but the number of livers available has not been able to keep up with this demand. The waiting list in the UK for liver transplantation has almost doubled in the last 10 years to over 600 patients, with 10-15% dying whilst waiting. Some livers are currently declined for transplantation as they are considered sub-optimal. The aim of this study is to optimise these livers by performing liver perfusion with oxygen-rich preservation fluid and to perform real-time assessment prior to transplantation. 

Ms Candice Downey

candice downey

St James University Hospital, Leeds 


Evaluation of a new wearable wireless device for remote vital signs monitoring in surgical patients 

'Keeping patients safe after major surgery'

Patients having major surgery are at high risk of complications. Identifying unwell patients early makes complications easier to treat. A new monitoring system, SensiumVitals®, measures heart rate, breathing rate and temperature every two minutes via a wireless patch, worn on the patient’s chest. This study will test if this device improves patient outcomes after major surgery, when compared to traditional patient monitoring, which is usually done every four hours. It will also test how patients and nurses feel about the new monitoring system. 

Mr Daniel Hipps

daniel hipps

Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research – Newcastle University

The role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis 

'Osteoporosis and DNA mutations'

Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) affects millions of people worldwide. It is associated with an increased risk of breaking bones (fracture) and potential significant risk to life and disability. The cause of osteoporosis is not fully understood and treatments for it to date are not fully effective. Fractures do occur with increasing frequency with age as bones become weaker. 

Every cell in our body contains little battery packs known as mitochondria. We know that little faults accumulate in the mitochondria with age. I aim to establish the link between mitochondrial DNA faults and the development of osteoporosis. 

Mr Yazan Khaled

yazan khaled

Leeds Institute of Biomedical & Clinical Sciences 


A multi-functional theranostic nanoparticle against colorectal cancer 

'Tailored surgery for colorectal cancer'

Colorectal cancer (CRC) surgery involves radical removal of the cancer together with draining channels (lymphatics) to reduce the risk of recurrence. More elderly patients are suffering from CRC and are less able to tolerate major surgery. A small particle (nanoparticle) will be developed that can be injected into patients. The nanoparticle will contain a glowing molecule that makes the particle (and cancer) easy to detect at surgery and can also kill cancer cells. Surgery can then be tailored appropriately so that only patients with evidence of cancer spread are subjected to high-risk, extensive surgery.

Ms Jennifer Kingston

jennifer kingston

Institute of Cancer and Pathology, St James’ University Hospital, Leeds 


The potential role of coxsackievirus A21 in combination with radiotherapy as a treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer 

'Coxsackie virus for treatment of advanced bowel cancer'

Following historical cases of spontaneous cancer remission after viral illnesses, research has proven that certain viruses can selectively kill cancer cells and simultaneously stimulate the patient’s immune system to attack tumours. This project aims to investigate the potential use of one such virus, Coxsackievirus-A21, as a novel treatment to improve survival in advanced bowel cancer. 

Ms Rebecca Llewellyn-Bennett

rebecca llewellynbennet

Clinical Trial Service Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford 


The effect of CEA on lifetime stroke risk and incident dementia in ACST-1 

'Surgery to prevent dementia and stroke'

Stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death and disability worldwide, and 44 million people suffer from dementia. Commonly, fatty deposits build up in neck arteries and they can dislodge and go to the brain causing stroke and possibly dementia. 

Around 20 years ago a large trial showed that surgery to remove these fatty deposits halved the risk of stroke. We can study these participants again to see if surgery. reduced their lifetime risk of stroke and dementia. If it did, more people could have this operation and reduce the risk of stroke and dementia.

Miss Hawys Lloyd-Hughes

hawys lloyd-hughes

Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Disorders (NDORMS), University of Oxford 


Outcomes and experiences of clinical care in common hand conditions 

'Patient reported outcomes for hand surgery'

Hand problems are very common and can have a significant negative impact on patient’s quality of life. Over 100,00 operations were performed on hands in the NHS in England last year. This includes different hand conditions which cause different problems. For all of the different had conditions there are many treatments offered; steroid injections, joint replacements, complex reconstructions. 

It is not clear however which treatments are best. This research aims to improve outcome measurements for patients with hand conditions, so that they can be used more effectively to determine the best treatment for patients. 

Mr Max Marsden

Max Marsden

Royal London Hospital 


Pre-hospital prognostic model to predict trauma induced coagulopathy and enhance resource utilisation 

'Predicting traumatic coagulopathy before hospital'

Bleeding from trauma is the largest cause of preventable deaths globally. A quarter of severely injured trauma casualties develop a blood clotting abnormality, known as Trauma Induced Coagulopathy (TIC) within minutes of injury. TIC is associated with increased bleeding and higher mortality. A novel prognostic tool, using artificial intelligence through a Bayesian Network, provides in-hospital risk assessment for developing TIC. I intend to develop, validate and assess the impact of a bespoke TIC pre-hospital prognostic model. The aim is earliest identification of high risk patients to employ mitigation strategies to improve patient care and prevent death. 

Mr Scott McCain

scott mccain

Ulster Hospital, Belfast 


The validity of informed consent for surgery 

'The validity of informed consent'

The concept of informed consent is fundamental to good surgical practice. Nonetheless, there is little evidence on patient understanding of consent or the impact of patient specific factors on understanding. This study assesses consent for hernia, gallbladder, breast and colorectal surgery.

Approximately 300,000 patients undergo surgery for these conditions each year in England alone. The study will determine which patient factors impact on the informed consent process for these procedures. If deficiencies in consent are identified, we aim to improve patient understanding by using a tablet application to provide a patient-specific explanation of surgery and associated risk. 

Ms Emma McGlone

emma mcglone

Hammersmith Hospital, London 


Prediction of diabetes resolution following bariatric surgery using ursodeoxycholic acid 

Bariatric surgery: predicting diabetes cure 

3.5 million people in the UK have diabetes; most are overweight or obese. Diabetes is a major cause of premature death, blindness and kidney failure. Bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for diabetes, but it cures only two-thirds of patients. Currently, we have no clinical test to predict which individuals will benefit.

We will use a single commonly-prescribed tablet to temporarily reproduce gut hormone changes seen in patients post-surgery, in order to develop a simple test to predict diabetes cure after bariatric surgery - crucially enabling surgeons to tailor the right treatment for the right patient. 

Ms Wee Ngu

wee ngu

South Tyneside District General Hospital 


The ADENOMA study - accuracy of detection using Endocuff optimisation of mucosal abnormalities 

'Improving adenoma detection rate with Endocuff'

Colonoscopy is the gold standard investigation for the large bowel. However, it is not perfect and adenomas which are pre-cancerous polyps can be missed. This results in higher interval colorectal cancers. Endocuff is a new device (attached to the end of the colonoscope) which works to improve views of the bowel wall during colonoscopy by holding back folds. In pilot studies, it has been shown to increase adenoma detection rate. This is a multicentre randomised controlled trial to assess the adenoma detection rate of Endocuff assisted colonoscopy versus standard colonoscopy. 

Mrs Hannah Nieto

hannah nieto

University of Birmingham 


Towards a new understanding of recurrent thyroid cancer 

'Understanding thyroid cancer recurrence'

The incidence of thyroid cancer is increasing more quickly than any other human tumour type. Around a quarter of thyroid cancers recur, and these tumours are more difficult to treat, and associated with significantly poorer outcome and earlier death. 

This project will analyse publically available and in-house Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) data from patients with recurrent thyroid tumours. Identified mutations will be further validated by laboratory experiments, examining cell behaviour in response to expression of the mutations. Through correlation with clinical outcome, we aim to identify higher risk patients and improve treatment and prognosis. 

Ms Ping Ong

ping ong

Anne McLaren Laboratory for Regenerative Medicine, University of Cambridge



Identification of signalling between hESC-derived epicardium & hESC-derived cardiomyocytes to enable successful myocardial regeneration 

'Repowering the failing heart'

Ischaemic heart disease with its attendant loss of myocardium lead to heart failure; an epidemic with over 23 million worldwide. Lifetime risk of developing heart failure is 20% and it carries a dismal 50% 5-year survival. Heart transplantation faces a shortage of donor organs, whilst mechanical circulatory assists (MCS) devices offer only a temporary solution. 

Short-term, stem cell-based therapy can prevent cardiomyocytes loss during acute/subacute myocardial infarction and regenerate cardiomyocytes in patients undergoing coronary revascularization with/out heart failure. In the long-term, it could reduce the incidence heart failure and reduce demands for heart transplantation or MCS.

Miss Sarah Onida

sarah onida

Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London 

The epidemiological and metabolic profiling of chronic venous disease 

'Chronic venous disease: epidemiology and metabonomics'

Chronic venous disease is reported to affect 30% of individuals, although this number is variable. Family history, pregnancy and obesity increase the risk of developing CVD, but the mechanism is unclear. Symptoms are varied, including: aching legs, varicose veins, ulceration. 

This research will help identify factors associated with high regional prevalence of CVD/low rates of treatment (e.g. deprivation) in England. Studying molecules previously linked to CVD in the blood and urine of patients and controls will provide information on the biological pathways involved, helping develop diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic translational applications. 

Mr Mustafa Rashid

Mustafa Rashid

Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford 

Identifying tissue biomarkers for predicting rotator cuff repair healing 

'Why do some people fail to heal after tendon tears in the shoulder?'

Tendons in the shoulder (the rotator cuff) are commonly injured. One in four 60-year-olds will have a rotator cuff tear. They often lead to pain and inability to use the arm, which can severely affect quality of life. In people who fail conservative treatment, surgery is sometimes performed. 

My research will focus on looking at what factors within the tendon tissue affects whether the repair successfully heals. This work will help us better understand this condition, and may help us develop new treatments to improve the likelihood of healing.

Miss Hema Sekhar

hema  sekhar

Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Manchester 


Optimising radiotherapy planning using advanced imaging technology to avoid salvage radical surgery in anal cancer 

'Anal cancer: predicting outcome, personalising treatment

There are 1200 new anal cancer cases per year in the UK. Treatment is radiation therapy with chemotherapy. Local failure occurs in 18%-25%. In these patients, radical multi-team surgery with considerable morbidity, including permanent colostomy formation, is required. Complications are common – for example, despite plastic surgery input, delayed wound healing occurs in greater than a third. Personalised treatment would allow those most likely to not respond to have more radiotherapy to reduce recurrence – but this is poorly understood. Information from our research will improve and personalise radiotherapy treatment, reducing the need for high-morbidity. 

Ms Andrea Sheel

andrea sheel

NIHR Liverpool Pancreas Biomedical Research Unit, Royal Liverpool University Hospital 



Genotype/phenotype and clinical biomarker correlations in chronic pancreatitis 

Biomarkers and progression in chronic pancreatitis 

Chronic pancreatitis affects around 1 in 1000 people. Fibrosis of the pancreatic tissues in response to recurrent inflammation is caused by; high ethanol consumption, smoking, genetic mutations etc. Patient’s progression is marked by pain, exocrine failure (malabsorption), endocrine failure (diabetes mellitus) and even cancer. 

Some patients only require medication (pancreatic supplementation), whilst others necisitate surgery for chronic pain in advanced disease. Working with our large group of patients with chronic pancreatitis, we will use the latest technologies to investigate markers found in blood to identify individuals at risk of developing severe disease, allowing early and truly personalised treatment. 

Mr Rohitashwa Sinha

rohitashwa sinha

Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge 


Impact of surgical brain injury 

'Impact of surgical brain injury'

Despite treatment, brain cancer is the commonest cause of cancer death in children and young adults. Surgery prolongs life; however, surgical brain injury can cause severe problems leaving patients dependent on care and unable to have additional treatment.  

We understand how surgical injury causes movement and speech problems and have changed surgery to reduce this risk. This research aims to extend our understanding to the impact of brain cancer surgery on vision, memory and thought. This knowledge will allow better patient counselling, safer surgery and focused rehabilitation in order to improve quality of life for these patients. 

Mr Henry Smith

henry smith

The Institute of Cancer Research, London 


Combination immunotherapy to target metastases in extremity soft tissue sarcoma 

'Targeted immunotherapy in soft tissue sarcoma'

Soft tissue sarcomas are rare cancers most commonly affecting the limbs. Isolated limb perfusion (ILP) is a surgical technique that allows high dose anti-cancer drugs to be delivered to an affected limb whilst avoiding severe side effects throughout the body. The cancer shrinks in 60% of patients treated with ILP. However, this treatment cannot stop the cancer spreading (known as metastases). We are investigating whether combining cancer-killing viruses with new drugs that stimulate the immune system added to standard chemotherapy in ILP will prevent metastases from developing and improve survival of patients with sarcoma. 

Mr Philip Spreadborough

philip spreadborough

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, United States of America

The effects of trauma on the polarisation of macrophages and the development of secondary immune injury 

'Preventing secondary injury following trauma'

Trauma is the most common cause of death in both sexes between the ages of 1 and 35 years worldwide. Advances in trauma care have enabled patients to survive much more severe injuries. For a third of these patients, their own immune response which is protective in mild trauma can become dysfunctional in severe trauma, leading to secondary immune injury, causing sepsis and organ failure.

This research seeks to improve the understanding of this immune response in order to develop treatments to prevent secondary injury; thus improving the survival and long-term health and function of trauma victims. 

Mr Nish Srikandarajah

nish srikandarajah

Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Liverpool 


Developing a core outcome set in cauda equina surgery 

'Developing research outcomes relevant to patients'

Cauda equina syndrome is caused by sudden compression of the spinal cord. Severe disability can result including leg weakness, bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction. It is the most common emergency spine operation in adults with roughly 1000 performed per year in England alone. 

In the literature there is significant difference and bias in outcomes reported. Working closely with patients, we intend to develop a set of outcomes for this condition that would be crucial for future research studies. This will improve reporting consistency in the literature leading to development of successful evidence-based treatment and management. 

Mr Edward St John

edward st john

Charing Cross Hospital, London 

Rapid evaporative ionisation for examination of breast surgical excision margins

'The iKnife for breast cancer margins'

Breast cancer is the commonest cancer among women. Unfortunately approximately one fifth (20%) of patients undergoing lumpectomy for breast cancer require another operation for unseen cancer left during the first operation. This research project aims to develop and evaluate the use of a new device called the Intelligent Knife (iKnife) that analyses breast tissue as the surgeon cuts through it and immediately informs the surgeon if the tissue is healthy or contains cancer. The aim is to enable the surgeon to ensure that the cancer is successfully removed in one operation, thus directly benefiting patients. 


Mr Matthew Wordsworth

Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham 

The development and validation of a porcine peripheral nerve injury and regeneration model

'Enhancing recovery from nerve injuries'

An injury that severs a large nerve in the upper arm or upper leg will usually cause a permanent disability. The techniques and medicines that surgeons use to repair nerves have not radically changed since the 1960s despite a large amount of promising scientific work in this field. This research is to develop a model of major nerve injury in pigs. This is so that new techniques and drugs can be assessed for their effect on improving recovery from nerve injury. Success in a pig model can then progress to human studies. 


Ms Naomi Wright

naomi wright

Kings College Hospital, London 

Improving Children’s Surgery in Sub-Saharan Africa

Each year thousands of newborns and children in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) suffer disability or death from surgical conditions that are operable and survivable. Global health prioritisation and funding has overlooked this need due to lack of awareness and inaccurate perceptions of prohibitive cost.

Utilising an innovative crowd-sourcing technique we will recruit surgeons from across SSA to form a research collaborative and undertake the first pan-African study on the outcomes of children with surgical conditions. This information is vital to put children’s surgery in Africa on the global health agenda. We aim to identify interventions to help improve outcomes.


Mr Amir Youshani

amir youshani

University of Manchester 

Characterisation of central versus peripheral tumour associated macrophages in glioblastoma multiforme

'Understanding immune cells in brain cancer'

Glioblastoma multiforme is the deadliest and most common brain cancer affecting adults, with terrible survival rates of 15-months despite best treatment. We know immune cells form over half of the tumour mass, but where they originate and their role in cancer survival is not understood. 

We aim to distinguish between immune cells from the blood against those from the brain using a brain cancer model. From this knowledge, we hope to manipulate the patient’s blood immune cells to attack this devastating brain cancer and aim to demonstrate this new approach to treatment within 5-10 years. 

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